Doc Digest: March 23, 2015

“Are you watching THE JINX?” – everyone


Welcome back to the Doc Digest, Point of View’s biweekly round-up of documentary news and views. To paraphrase the CRTC, we’re offering you a World of Choice in doc-links to read.

It’s almost Christmas in doc-land, as Hot Docs unveiled its 2015 line-up last week. Festival opener Tig promises cathartic laughter as it follows stand-up comic Tig Notaro in the wake of a now-legendary 2012 set performed days after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. We’re also excited about the inaugural DocX program, showcasing interactive docs and new technology, including a one-night-only live performance of the final chapter of HIGHRISE. To learn more about “Universe Within,” watch our interview with Katerina Cizek. For extensive coverage of Hot Docs 2015, watch for our next issue, arriving shortly before the festival!

In the wake of the enormous success of NPR’s “Serial” podcast, the true crime genre is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, most recently with the hit HBO series The Jinx. Directed by Capturing the Friedman’s Andrew Jarecki and relying heavily on dramatization, Jason Bailey at Flavorwire notes that the timing of Criterion’s re-release of Errol Morris’ landmark The Thin Blue Line couldn’t have been better. Bailey examines our love of true crime and the influence of Morris on The Jinx here. We reviewed Errol Morris’ latest doc, The Unknown Known, in 2014.

Not everyone is happy about Morris’ influence, though. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody writes this hell of a lede: “The reënactment is the bane and the curse of the modern documentary film.” Are you swayed by his arguments? (And be honest – how many of you knew that reënactment had an umlaut?)

Joshua Oppenheimer, director of The Look of Silence and The Act of Killing, treads lightly around the word “reënactment” too, now preferring to call them “dramatizations.” These thoughts and more from his recently shared “manifesto” at the Based on a True Story Conference. For another doc-maker manifesto, read the late Peter Wintonick’s fiery prose here.

Switching gears to the small screen: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recently announced its plan to “maximize choice and affordability for Canadian television viewers” based on the over 13,000 responses received in the “Let’s Talk TV” conversation. The Documentary Organisation of Canada has been issuing responses to these decisions online about the implications for Canadian doc-makers. If the jargon has you vexed, this Globe and Mail guide from September 2014 is still relevant.

We can’t think of a cooler venue for a film festival than a lab for particle physics. CineGlobe kicks off its fifth year at CERN (whose Large Hadron Collider can be seen on the cover of our Fall 2012 issue), screening fiction and non-fiction films that bridge the gap between science and art. Hopefully the festival wraps up before the universe folds in on itself.

Back closer to home, The 2015 Human Rights Film Festival is on this week and next in Toronto, featuring POV-reviewed films such as The Look of Silence, The Wanted 18, and TIFF 2014 People’s Choice winner Beats of the Antonov. Click here for the full line-up and schedule.

The Guardian recently profiled filmmaker Thom Andersen on the release of his latest film, The Thoughts That Once We Had. POV’s Christina Clarke interviewed Andersen late last year, when Los Angeles Plays Itself was released on home video.

Last but certainly not least: fans of experimental documentary rejoice, because we’re currently hosting 13 (!) feature-length and short docs from Harvard’s innovative Sensory Ethnography Lab. Watch them online for free until March 29, 2015. Thanks to Doc Alliance Films and RIDM for hooking us up! (And for our non-Canadian readers, you can watch three others – including their latest, Manakamana – at the Doc Alliance Films website.

More to Digest:
March 9, 2015
February 23, 2015